Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Crash Go the Saucers!

Just recently, New Page Books sent me a review-copy of Kevin Randle's latest book: Crash: When UFOs Fall From the Sky.

I've met Kevin on a couple of occasions; most recently at the annual MUFON conference in Denver, Colorado in July. And, even though it's fair to say we are poles apart (in some respects, but not all) when it comes to Roswell, a fine time was had hanging out and chatting with Kevin - demonstrating that disagreeing on certain aspects of Ufology does not mean daggers need be drawn!

Well, for some in Ufology, it does. But, I'm pleased to say that Kevin and I were able to amiably hang out, and not get into that pathetic "with me or against me" mindset that seems to dominate much of Ufological thinking.

But, you may ask: what about the book? What do I think of Crash? What should you think of it? Okay, here we go...

First: if, when it comes to UFO crash-retrieval cases you are a wide-eyed true believer who swallows whole just about each and every story of dead aliens; crashed, wrecked and recovered UFOs; and Hangar 18 that crosses your tedious path, then this is not the book for you.

I should clarify: if you are of that very sad and tragic mindset, then you should still most definitely read the book, but you may find that more than a few cherished beliefs fall by the wayside, in the process. The book might even give you a nose-bleed. And, such would probably be mightily deserved too.

If, however, you have a deep, open-minded approach to crashed UFO accounts, but are driven by a quest for the truth (whatever that may be), rather than by a desire to only ever follow that path of a definitive "I Want To Believe" nature, then you'll derive much pleasure, satisfaction and insight from Crash.

So, with that bit of a rant out of the way, onto the book!

Kevin, as just about everyone in Ufology knows, is a firm adherent of the idea that aliens from some far-away world met their deaths in the harsh desert of New Mexico back in the long-gone summer of 1947. And, maybe they did. I may have written a book suggesting otherwise - Body Snatchers in the Desert - but, I have always openly admitted that in the hall-of-mirrors world that is Ufology, truth and disinformation make for very strange bed-fellows of a truly unpredictable nature.

So, on the matter of Roswell, we get what we would expect from Kevin: a solid look at the Roswell affair, but with the emphasis on those witnesses - and their attendant testimony - that collectively push the case down the road to E.T.

However, those of you who assume that just because Kevin is of a "Roswell was alien" approach, also means that he's a proponent of just about every crash case that comes along, it's time to take a pill or two, a few deep breaths, lower your blood-pressure, and calm down.

Aurora, Texas, 1897; Aztec, New Mexico 1948; and Spitzbergen, Norway, 1952 are all summarily dismissed as probable hoaxes. And Del Rio 1950 doesn't come out of this looking particularly glowing either. The near-legendary Kingman, Arizona event of 1953 comes in for some deep criticism, too; even though Kevin admits that this is a case that remains open, to some intriguing degree.

But Kevin is not the evil destroyer of most-things crashed and saucer-shaped that some of you might now have in mind (and if you do, that only serves to demonstrate one of the major aspects of the Ufological field: its utterly ridiculous emotionally-driven pettiness. And you know who you are: you send me crappy emails from time to time, written on your mommy's computer!).

By that, I mean, Kevin concludes that Roswell was not the only occasion upon which E.T. has crashed, burned and been scooped up, body-bag-style, for transfer to some secret locale where it subsequently gets sliced, diced and dissected.

The admittedly very interesting Las Vegas affair of 1962 (if you don't know the one, then buy the book!) gets positive, pro-alien coverage. And Ubatuba, 1957 remains very much an open case for Kevin, and one considered worthy of further coverage, reinvestigation and new study.

As for the rest of the book, well you get a great deal on Stringfield, Kecksburg, Project Moon Dust, and that Needles, California incident of 2008 that practically screams "Remotely Piloted Vehicle!" And much more, too.

So, if you're into crashed UFO cases and you're looking for a careful, unbiased look at the phenomenon in its entirety, then this is a book from which you should come away refreshed, informed, and satisfied.

But if you're someone who is utterly driven by belief systems, and totally rejects the notion that certain classic cases might be the results of hoaxes, misidentification and more, well that's just too bad.

I don't agree with all of Kevin's conclusions, but I do know that Ufology needs more books like this, where the author leaves beliefs at the door, and dissects the phenomenon in an unbiased way and without having to resort to championing certain cases, just because that's what certain shrill screamers in Ufology want to hear.

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